Former Lee’s Summit High School quarterback Drew Lock is expected to buck a trend in this year’s NFL Draft when it comes to players from the Kansas City area.
Since 2011, three first-round draft picks — Aldon Smith (Raytown), Shane Ray (Bishop Miege) and Charles Harris (Lincoln Prep) — anchored the defensive line at the University of Missouri. But Lock, whose Mizzou career ended at the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, is expected to be one of multiple quarterbacks taken early.
Lock racked up big numbers at Mizzou. In his junior year, he set an SEC record with 44 touchdown tosses, surpassing Peyton Manning (36 at Tennessee) and Eli Manning (31 at Ole Miss). He also passed for 373 yards in the 38-33 loss against Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl, the fourth best in the bowl game’s 60-year history.
In high school, Lock played football and basketball, so good at the latter that he drew the attention of Division I basketball coaches like Lon Kruger and Gregg Marshall. Talent runs in the family: Dad Andy Lock (1986-89) and grandfather Jerry Lock (1961-62) played football at Mizzou. His mom, Laura, was an all-state high school basketball player at Centralia High School.
But when it came time for Lock to decide what he’d stick with in college, Drew Lock wanted the football.
“To me, I don’t think very many people can spin it the way I spin it,” he said in February at the NFL Combine, where projected early-rounders displayed their build, skills and aptitude. “If I wanted to make a career out of a sport, it was going to be football and I was going to be confident doing it.”
According to Tony Pauline, who runs DraftAnalyst.com, Lock has the ability to succeed as an NFL quarterback. But Pauline also thinks there’s a drawback to Lock’s game.
“The problem with Drew Lock is inconsistency,” he said at the Combine, which was held in Indianapolis.
Lock attended the Combine, and was brimming with confidence.
“I think every quarterback’s going to tell you they’re No. 1, so I’m going to sit here and tell you that I’m No. 1,” Lock said. “But it’s not my job to go and critique quarterbacks. I just know a lot about me. I know I’ve been through a certain amount of adversity at the University of Missouri that’ll get me ready for the NFL.”
But can Lock be coached to be more consistent?
When Pauline addressed that question, he started with a big sigh.
“It’s an intangible that’s dangerous,” he said. “Can it be coached? There’s the potential there, but that’s why I say he, of all the quarterbacks, has the highest upside and he’s got the biggest bust factor.”
Lock has met with several NFL teams ahead of the draft. Among them is the Green Bay Packers, which has two first-round picks and is set with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But he’s 36.
Lock says he’d welcome the chance to hone his skills in the same manner that Rodgers has.
“My feet aren’t necessarily on the ground perfect all the time,” Lock said. “We (he and Rodgers) throw from weird arm angles. I get critiqued about it, he gets critiqued about it a little bit, but that’s just our style of the game.”
The Denver Broncos choose 10th in the first round, two picks before the Packers. Broncos GM and former quarterback John Elway knows the Broncos need to upgrade because of their division rival Kansas City Chiefs.
Elway declared at the Combine: “As usual, our first goal is to win the division and that’s going to go through Kansas City.”
As far as Lock playing for his hometown Chiefs? It’s probably a longshot, considering the Chiefs are well-entrenched with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is entering his second year as a starter and third year overall.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach still finds Lock, in his words, intriguing.
“I think he has great ad-lib ability, which you certainly need in this league,” said Veach, who considers himself a neighbor of the Locks as a Lee’s Summit resident. “Arm strength and ad-lib ability is a good place to start. He certainly has both those qualities and I’m sure it won’t be long for him to hear his name called off on draft night.”
The first round of the NFL Draft will take place Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee. The rest of the draft stretches out to the following two days.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.